7 Cool Shade Ideas


I'm a southern girl but all the sweet tea in the world isn't enough to beat the heat on a brutally hot day. 

Having shade for your outdoor spaces is key to a home you can really enjoy year round. Besides the effects of keeping you cool, they can often keep your home's interior cooler (reducing cooling costs), and protecting your outdoor furnishing from deterioration. Today we are rounding up 7 ways you can (beautifully) create shade to cool off your outdoor living space. 

All images are linked to original sources.


#1 Retractable Awnings

  • Retractable awnings are awesome for  big or small spaces! They can be used with a pre-built frame or attached to an existing structure which makes them incredibly versatile.
  • Fantastic for small and awkward spaces or large areas up to  21', there's an awning that can help keep your style high and your sweat levels low.
  • Besides providing outstanding UV protection, they can protect from all elements like rain, wind and even light snow. It is recommended you retract them during heavy downpours, hail and snow. Otherwise, they can be used year round! 
  • Not only do these retractable shades reduce outdoor heat, but they provide a fantastic cooling effect for your indoors too. When your windows and doors are shaded, your interior temperatures can be reduced up to 15 degrees. Keeping a more consistent temperature is good for your energy consumption and your monthly cooling costs.
  • Fabric, wood, paint and other materials are susceptible to the damaging effects of the sun. Keep your outdoor and indoor investments protected with awnings from sun damage and other weather related deterioration.
  • Retractable shades will cost more upfront, but eventually pay for themselves by reducing your energy costs, maintenance of your outdoor equipment with the additional benefit of expanding your social and living space.

#2 Sun Shade Disk & Stand

  • Everyone has a traditional umbrella,  but these fabulous vintage throw-backs are reminiscent of the Deco-era, and will provide you and your family hours of fun in the shade!
  • Traditionally made from all-weather canvas, these disks are up to 60" in diameter each, which will be perfect for your special place outside.
  • The popular models come in either single disk, or 3 disk options, so take your pick as to which will work for you! They fit into most standard umbrella stands which will reduce your need to purchase additional materials if you already have one.
  • Because of their unique shape, the shade disks take up less visual space. So if you're keeping an eye out for a White-Tailed Ptarmigan or the youngsters running afoot, these shades don't block much except for the sunshine!
  • As an added benefit, these shades are extremely convenient for moving around your property so you can shade a particular window  or door which will keep that interior space cooler and save you some money in your energy expenses!

#3 Shade Sails

  • What can be said about these  easy shade sails? They're fun, come in a million colors and are super easy to install.  They attach directly to an existing structure or pole and are versatile for oddly shaped spaces such as walkways or sections that are shaded everywhere except that one tricky spot..
  • Sun sails are usually covered by a 10 year warranty that covers all UV degradation, except for sun fade. The bright side? The fading will be on the top, where you won't even know it's there!
  • Replacing the cloth of your sun shade is typically 10-15% of the original cost, which is great! Not many products can boast such cost-effective replacement pieces.
  • If your sail gets a tear or a rip, the fabric is designed to keep that damage from spreading until it can be repaired or replaced. 
  • In humidity rich environments, these sails are mildew resistant so you can keep your cool while not worrying about icky moisture damage. 

#4 Vegetation/Trellis

  • A trellis is a weekend warrior's DIY dream come true!  They're simple to build, easy to maintain and will look wonderful in your yard for years to come!
  • These are a fantastic way to double your garden space, as they allow plants to grow UP instead of OUT. If you're limited in your outdoor space, or simply want to keep a smaller area to maintain, a trellis is a perfect option for your backyard enjoyment!
  • Certain types of plants thrive in a vertical growing environment like snap peas and pole beans. They're an excellent addition to any garden, and will help promote eating better along with the type of vegetation that is easy to care for. 
  • If flowers are more your style, many perennial and annual type look great growing up a trellis. Wisteria, wild rose, clematis, morning glories climbing hydrangea, and lilac solarus are just a few gorgeous flowering plants that will keep your new favorite shady spot looking and smelling fantastic!
  • Mixing vegetables and flowers is not only a beautiful way to add color and texture, but its a great trick to keeping pollinators and other beneficial creatures in your area while keeping pests away without nasty chemicals and insecticides. 
  • There are some plants that will maintain their leaves all year, providing more than a stick sculpture during the colder months. Mixing perennials and annuals will allow a great variety every season, and keep your yard fresh.

#5 Pergola

  • Pergola structures are fairly easy to build on your own, or use a professional to calculate exact shade requirements. A professional can coordinate specific spacing between your boards to grant you full shade, a few hours of shade, or seasonal shade. There are a million ways to use pergola in any season!
  • Most structures can either be attached to your home, or built as a free standing structure. They are easy to maintain and can provide years of enjoyment for your family. 
  • Much like a trellis, many types of plants and vegetation thrive in a vertical growing environment. As these are typically larger areas, it may take a few years of growing and training your plants to really achieve full benefit, they are beautiful and add spectacular architectural interest to a space.
  • Even without plants growing over it, a simple wood pergola makes a great statement and defines a specific location in your yard. Adding a seating  or a dining area is a fabulous way to stay outdoors but sweat-free during the hot summer season.

#6 Retractable Shades

  • Retractable shades are fabric panels that slide open and closed. This is a great option that provides flexibility with you actually want the warmth of the sun...say spring and fall. 
  • DIY Tutorials are abundant online, but you can also have them custom made for you. Installation can be done on your own or by a professional. 
  • Some options can be motorized, but opening and closing these shades is as easy as your indoor drapes, so do you really need it? Not having an electronic motor can save you hundreds on the up front cost as well as down the line should/when you need repairs or replacements. 
  • Most shades are made of a mesh or canvass that provide great sun protection.  As with most things in life, there are pros and cons to using either. Mesh is great at blocking UV rays from the sun, and holds up to wind at any gust. Unfortunately, the late afternoon showers you may get means that mesh does not handle rain protection. Canvas, however, is a great rain blocker in addition to sunshine! One downfall however, is wind. Canvas acts as a sail in wind, and should be used with care in certain conditions. Gusts can cause some serious damage if your canvas shade is open in the wind. 

#7 Drapery

  • Hands down the most economical and versatile option on our list, drapery can be used in any outdoor space, in any condition, and has an infinite amount of customizable features. 
  • The options for outdoor fabric is spectacular.  Like things crisp and clean? Perhaps some white linen to keep things fresh. Not afraid to go bold? Try a bright color or wild pattern to add some zest to your new outdoor oasis. 
  • Outdoor drapes are easy to install, a breeze to clean, and require very little space when you're storing them for the season. Plus, you can mix and match different drapery to change up your space any time you feel like it. Versatility is a beautiful thing!
  • There are several ways in which you can use drapes. From a few select spots, to sectioning off entire areas, there are many ways to achieve the feeling and look you want.  
  • With the cash you'll save using these drapes, you're free to really amp up your accessory list! Add those all-season cushions, invest in that topiary, and maybe a few fun outdoor activities the whole family can enjoy. Giant Jenga, anyone?

So, what do you think? Summer months are our favorite, and expanding your living space to include as much outdoor activity will keep you and your family healthy and happy! We would be so glad to hear your feed back, and encourage you to take pictures of your new outdoor living spaces! Tag us on Instagram @studio7creative.

Until next time...

XO, Kate